For the first time since March 2020, there will be a full house at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena for a UFC event. On July 10, former two-division champion Conor McGregor will battle former interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier in their highly anticipated trilogy bout. McGregor won the first one by TKO in 2014 back at featherweight, followed by Poirier evening the score at lightweight this past January. In the co-main event, former welterweight title challengers Stephen Thompson and Gilbert Burns are set to face each other in a pivotal matchup.
There’s a lot at stake with this weekend’s show, from the main event all the way down to the early prelims. It should be a great night of fights, and you know McGregor competing in front of a large crowd always produces a tremendous atmosphere. Before fight night arrives in Sin City, let’s look at some of the best bets on DraftKings Sportsbook across the UFC 264 card that are worth a wager.
NEW DRAFTKINGS SPORTSBOOK USERS: Bet $1 on either fighter to win by 1st-round KO and win $264 if your bet hits! Sign up now at DraftKings Sportsbook!
Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor - Lightweights
Poirier’s resume is that of an all-time great — the only thing he hasn’t accomplished is winning the undisputed UFC lightweight belt. ‘The Diamond’ has beaten Eddie Alvarez, Justin Gaethje, Max Holloway twice, Anthony Pettis, Dan Hooker and he got his revenge when he knocked McGregor out at UFC 257. Instead of going for a title shot, Poirier opted for the money fight and the tiebreaking fight with McGregor. Everyone knows McGregor’s story of how the Irishman went from hyped prospect to the UFC’s first ever simultaneous two-division champion and one of the biggest stars in combat sports history. In recent times, we have seldom seen him in the cage, and this indeed is the first time he’s fought twice in a calendar year since 2016. His last MMA win was a 46-second TKO of Donald Cerrone at UFC 246 in January 2020, but that doesn’t rank among his best victories when you consider his unforgettable 13-second dispatching of Jose Aldo, his thrashing of Eddie Alvarez and stoppage of Chad Mendes.
As long as Poirier can weather McGregor’s early attack (when he’s most potent), it’s clear to me Poirier has become not just the better striker but the superior mixed martial artist. Poirier’s calf kicks were a key in the last fight, but he also displayed an improved chin and his devastating boxing combinations proved too much for Conor to handle. It’s highly unlikely McGregor tries to wrestle or grapple with Poirier, and he’s inferior in both areas anyway. I’m going with Poirier straight-up to take the trilogy and get one more crack at becoming the king of the lightweights.
Gilbert Burns vs. Stephen Thompson - Welterweights
It may be a bit of a stretch to keep calling a 38-year-old ‘Wonderboy,’ but Thompson looks like he’s had a dip in the fountain of youth with his recent performances. The two-time title challenger picked apart the surging Vicente Luque at UFC 244, and in his lone appearance of 2020, he outclassed Geoff Neal. Burns is fighting for the first time since his TKO loss to Kamaru Usman for the title, although he did stun the champ early in their contest. The jiu-jitsu standout began his UFC career at lightweight and went a more than respectable 7-3, but his move up to 170 really paid dividends as he notably beat Demian Maia and Tyron Woodley en route to a title shot.
This is a very fascinating stylistic clash. Thompson’s exceptional takedown defense could make it hard for Burns to get the fight to the ground on his terms. The threat of the takedown could present opportunities for Burns to let his fists fly but Thompson is such a good counterstriker that he can make Burns pay for his aggressiveness. If Thompson can keep Burns at bay with his jab much in the way Usman eventually did, then it’ll be a tough night for the Brazilian.
It’s been five years since Thompson won by stoppage, so I like Wonderboy by decision — especially at a +150.
DraftKings is hosting a big UFC 264 fantasy MMA tournament that pays out $1 MILLION in total prizes, including $200,000 to first place. The fantasy MMA contest locks at 6:00 p.m. ET on Saturday. Set your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups here: MMA $1M 264 Special [$200K to 1st].
Sean O’Malley vs. Kris Moutinho - Bantamweights
O’Malley bounced back from his TKO loss to Marlon Vera with a dominant display and third-round KO of Thomas Almeida at UFC 260. ‘Sugar’ Sean burst onto the scene with a brilliant performance on Dana White’s Contender Series, which earned him a UFC contract. He’s since gone 5-1 inside the Octagon and has shown the type of flashy striking and fight-stopping power that has made him one of the names to watch at 135. Louis Smolka was originally O’Malley’s opponent before pulling out with injury, so in his place is newcomer Kris Moutinho. The Massachusetts native is 9-4 and enters this one on a two-fight winning streak, having competed almost exclusively under the well-regarded CES MMA promotion in the Northeast.
Moutinho is an action fighter, which may be great for the entertainment level of this bout, but absolutely terrible for his chances of actually winning. O’Malley is the biggest favorite on this card for a reason, and his offensive firepower should be way too much for Moutinho to handle. Expect Moutinho to put in a good effort but for O’Malley to win in emphatic fashion. O’Malley has won by knockout in 9 of his 13 victories, and Moutinho’s last two losses have been by (T)KO, so with Sean as a humongous ML favorite it’s better to go the prop bet route.
Niko Price vs. Michel Pereira - Welterweights
Price has been almost nothing but action throughout his 12 UFC bouts. He took Donald Cerrone to a draw last September, but for the second time had a result overturned due to a positive marijuana test. Price has a knack for unusual finishes, including a rare upkick KO of James Vick and an unbelievable hammerfist KO from the bottom against Randy Brown. Unfortunately for Price, he’s struggled with consistency and has been notably stopped twice by Vicente Luque and knocked out by Geoff Neal. Brazil’s Pereira has a flair for the dramatic and has a style that’s almost cut out of a video game or an action movie. And yet, he toned down his creativity and eked out a win over Khaos Williams last December. He did impress with his third-round submission of Zelim Imadaev in his preceding outing and dominated Diego Sanchez before that before losing by DQ for an illegal strike.
Even though both men went the distance in their last respective fights, this one should end in a finish. For better or worse, Price only knows how to fight aggressively, and that’ll either mean he’ll stop Pereira or get stopped himself. I like the odds on this one ending inside the distance, especially when you consider Price has only gone to the scorecards once in 20 pro bouts.
The trilogy. This Saturday. You think you know what’s going to happen? So do I. Put your money where your mouth is on the @DraftKings with a FREE swing at their UFC 264 pool for your share of $25K. Do it...if you know what’s good for ya. https://t.co/UOOOib2ZcG #ad pic.twitter.com/aSqAgfZsfs— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) July 8, 2021
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mookiealexander) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
21+ (18+ NH). CO/IL/IN/IA/NH/NJ/PA/TN/VA/WV/MI only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.